Tarte au Citron

Country of origin: France

Tarte au citron is something that I’ve eaten countless times; I’ve sampled dull, over-creamy ones with just a whisper of lemon, more tart custard creations and also crispy pastry shells filled simply with lemon curd. The time has come to learn how to make some version of it.

I don’t know what the more authentic filling for this tart should be: baked custard-based or just lemon curd; this Guardian How to gives a detailed comparison. I choose custard.

I used Mary Berry’s recipe; it is fairly simple but takes a while: make the pastry*, chill it, roll it out, chill it, blind bake it, dry it, cool it, fill it and bake it! The only adaptions I made were using a little less sugar and adding an extra lemon to take it up another notch.

This recipe makes a lovely thin crust. So thin in fact that there was a moment when I feared the pastry wasn’t going to make it all the way over the tin, but it did (with a few dodgy patch jobs). As you can see, the pastry shrinks during the blind baking, so I should have cut off the excess pastry after the blind baking and not before. There are also air bubbles in the pastry case which I’m not sure how to avoid; perhaps heavier beans are needed for the blind baking.

Apart from a minor leak, the tart came out well: the buttery shell is the perfect match for the still-wobbly sharp custard inside; although a full pate sucrée pastry may be even better. I also plan to try this David Lebovitz lemon curd-based version.

* The pastry in the recipe has only one egg and 25g sugar for 175g flour, whereas pate sucrée has roughly three times the egg and sugar content.